Iowa Hunger and Poverty Policy Questions

Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Hawkeye State are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need.

Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond.  The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.

These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions. 

Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.

Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding.  We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.

1. Iowa has one of the highest SNAP participation rates among the working poor at 72%.  What about the SNAP program in this state makes it so successful at reaching those who need it?
2. The WIC benefit amount is below the national average.  Is there any movement to increase the rate?
3. Participation in both the School Breakfast Program and School Lunch Program is below the national average.  Participation in the School Breakfast Program is only 1/5 of the School Lunch Program. How can the School Breakfast Program become more accessible? What is being done to increase participation in both programs?
4. The number of children in the Summer Nutrition per 100 in the School Lunch Program is among the lowest in the nation.  Is there an effort to increase awareness, participation, and the number of locations which serve food?
5. Iowa has a very strong Farmers’ Market Program. It has the 8th highest number of Farmers’ Markets, and very high numbers of Farmers’ Markets participating in the Senior and WIC Farmers’ Markets. What makes this program so successful? What organizations or people are working with the program?
6. 25.5% of jobs pay below the federal poverty line which is higher than the national average of 22.2%.  Is there any effort underway to institute a living wage?
7. Iowa has a low rate of taxpayers receiving a federal EITC.  Is there any effort being made to increase the number of people who receive an EITC?
8. Iowa has a 6.0% tax on non prescription drugs. Are there any efforts underway to exempt these products from the state sales tax?
9. The lowest 20% of income earners are paying 11% of their incomes in taxes while the highest 1% of income earners are paying 6% of their income in taxes. Is any effort being made to relieve the tax burden on low income individuals?
10. Iowa has the third highest high school completion rate in the country. Are there any special features of the educational system in your state that may contribute to this above average performance?
11. What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?

Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected]

Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.